WASHINGTON, March 9 -
Mr. Speaker, this morning on the west lawn of this fine building, the Capitol of the United States, I participated in the National Anthem Project. Sponsored by the National Association For Music Education and supported by its honorary Chair, First Lady Laura Bush, as well as Jeep, Chrysler, Save America's Treasures, the Girl Scouts of America, the NBA, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Education Association, the American Legion and many, many more, this 3-year project will get America singing our national anthem again, the "Star-Spangled Banner,'' proudly and strongly singing it again and will help people understand the important role that music classes play in teaching our culture.
During the most forgotten American war, the War of 1812, some say the second American revolution, between the United States and England, the British invaded the United States and they torched this city, Washington, consuming numerous public buildings, including the White House and this Capitol, leaving it, as they said, in a most magnificent ruin.
Next on their list was the city of Baltimore, not far from here. They attempted to attack Baltimore by sea. American forces under the command of Colonel George Armistead defended Baltimore in the harbor with Fort McHenry standing in the way of the British and Baltimore, and they thwarted this destruction by the British.
A young lawyer on a British ship trying to seek the release of a friend watched this 25-hour British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry throughout the night, and the next morning he saw the largest United States flag he had ever seen flying at dawn and inspired this young lawyer by the name of Francis Scott Key to write the words that later became our national anthem. He watched the flag fly as the British ships left the harbor in defeat.
Yet, Mr. Speaker, the lyrics to the "Star-Spangled Banner'' that we have officially called our national anthem for 75 years are foreign to many of our citizens. According to a Harris poll, fewer than 30 percent of American children can sing this patriotic song. This is somewhat tragic. We must revive America's heritage starting by equipping our Nation's music teachers with the resources they need to preserve our tradition in freedom, freedom in song.
Unfortunately, when budget cuts are made in the area of education, music classes in schools across the country are the first to be asphyxiated. But considering that so much of our history is chronicled through songs, songs like the "Star-Spangled Banner,'' and that three out of four Americans cite music class in their public school as the primary place they learn about American history, how can we let this trend continue? Are we going to deprive future generations of Americans the vibrant spirit of our land?
Cicero, the Roman orator, author, and politician, once said: "Not to know what has been transacted in former times is always to remain a child. If no use is made of the labors of the past, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.'' And even though he warned us about the tragedy of this apathy of history, we have deserted our commitment to the far-reaching study of civics, civics education and American history in these United States. We must ask ourselves how many of our students can identify such names as John Paul Jones, Susan B. Anthony, Paul Revere, and Nathan Hale.
To answer this question, we have to examine where a number of the curricula in our Nation's classrooms begin the American tale. Now, in many American classrooms they do not start American history with the American Revolution. They start it with World War II to the present. They just do not have enough time, according to educators. So how can we blame our young children who become our young leaders if they do not know our history?
Moreover, according to the Fordham Institute, which seeks